10: The Cold War: A new History

by John Lewis Gaddis

I did my internal assessment on the historiography of The cold War. If you’re interested in this subject and doesnt know a lot about it and would like to in one volume or less. THIS IS THE ONE!

John Lewis Gaddis is a leading historian in the cold war and he recently published the biography of John F. Kennan, the author of the Long Telegram.

I read the first chapter of this book when I wrote my internal assessment then flipped through the rest to find supporting quotes. Ha, that’s how I write all my papers and essays but I do enjoy history so I’m glad that I had the chance to read this throughout. It’s easy to read, fun, and you learn a lot about the mentality during the cold war, if you weren’t alive then or had no memory of it.

I also started listening to podcasts! I love podcasts! This one especially called Dan Carlin’s hardcore history, and the newest podcast is about the red scare which briefly talks about the cold war, obviously, that’s a very important factor.

I can’t really review this book other than that it really is very easy to read and easy to follow. Sometimes when i read historical texts, your eyes sorta glaze over and it’s like, wait wait what who did what? that’s what happened several times when i was reading about napoleon, though i like him a lot too…

I did take some quotes….during this book, though i don’t really know why i did that..

page 32: this is to demonstrate the ease of understanding of this book Several premises shaped the Marshall plan: that the gravest threat to western interests in Europe was not the prospect of Soviet military intervention, but rather the risk that hunger, poverty, and despair might cause Europeans to vote their own communists into office, who would then obediently serve Moscow’s wishes; that american economic assistance would produce immediate psychological benefits and later material ones that would reverse this trend; that the Soviet Union would not itself accept such aid or allow its satellites to, thereby straining its relationship with them; and that the United States could then seize both the geopolitical and the moral initiate in the emerging Cold War.

page 33: The Yugoslav dictator might be a ‘son-of-a bitch’, the new American secretary of state, Dean Acheson, acknowledge astringently in 1949 but he was now our ‘son-of-a-bitch’.

page 46 – 47:

“The fact of the matter is that there is a little bit of the totalitarian buried somewhere, way down deep, in each and every one of us,” Kennan told students at the National War College in 1947. “It is only the cheerful light of confidence and security which keeps this evil genius down….If confidence and security were to disappear, don’t think that he would not be waiting to take their place.” This warning from the founder of containment – that the enemy to be contained might as easily lie within the beneficiaries of freedom as among its enemies – showed how pervasive fear had become in postwar international order for which there had been so much hope. It helps to explain why Orwell’s 1984, when it appeared in 1949, became and instant literary triumph.

page 51

If the object of war was to secure the state – how could it not be? – then wars had to be limited: that is what Clausewitz meant when he insisted that war is “a continuation of political activity by other means … the political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes.”

page 53

On the day the bomb was first tested in the New Mexico desert he wrote a note to himself speculating that “machines are ahead of morals by some centuries, and when morals catch up perhaps there’ll be no reason for any of it.”

Posted: December 28th, 2011
Categories: 52 weeks, BOOKS, QUOTES
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